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25 September 2018

  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.

Saving Lives

Author: Alexei Bayer

July/Aug 2014
Social Issues
Page 64   ( 1 pages)

Summary: On how the new smoking ban will play out.


Russians love to have a good time.

That was the greatest surprise after the fall of communism – seeing groups of Russians at some global fun place smoking, drinking, hooting loudly and in general enjoying themselves to the hilt.

It took the French two thousand years to create their fine wines, rare cognacs and famed gastronomy. It took the Russians a couple of years to become connoisseurs of all this.

The old stereotypes are dead. Gone are the Russians from James Bond movies, goose-stepping to the orders of some spinsterly SMERSH shrew. Gone are the sullen masses of the Brezhnev era.

(By the way, where were those supermodel types in the Soviet Union? Were they hiding in the crowd, all six feet five inches of them? Well, Russian women are a different subject altogether, deserving a column of its own.)

Americans used to think that Russians smoked and drank themselves to death because they were fatalistic and because their lives were so dreary.

“So what? You’re going to die, anyway, right?”

Now we know that Russians smoke because they like it. It feels good. And drinking feels good, too. And driving very fast on bad roads. But sweating at the gym is boring. And going to see a doctor is stupid. Doctors always find something wrong with you and before you know it, you’re dead, whereas if you hadn’t gone to the doctor you would’ve lived to be a hundred.

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